SACRAMENTO—Staff with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a warning on Aug. 20: there are “several unauthorized online websites” selling fishing and hunting licenses. Those unauthorized vendors are, according to CDFW staff, “improperly” charging anglers and hunters extra fees for license purchases.
“[The unauthorized vendors] may be collecting sensitive personal information as part of their unauthorized transactions,” CDFW staff said in a released statement.
CDFW staff added there are only four ways to purchase a fishing or hunting license:
- online, via the state’s Automated License Data System, or ALDS
- on the telephone, via an authorized telephone sales agent (800-565-1458)
- at a physical license sales office
- or, physically at an independent license sales agent (local sporting goods story, bait and tackle shop, etc.).
“Because CDFW’s license sales offices and some independent license sales agent offices have been temporarily closed to help slow the spread of Covid-19, there has been a surge in online sales over the summer months,” CDFW staff said in a released statement. “Unscrupulous website operators and scammers are taking advantage of increased virtual traffic, and the public should take extra precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.”
CDFW staff has shut down six unauthorized websites since June 2019. Two more websites making unauthorized licenses sales are on the verge of “being disabled,” according to CDFW staff.
“Unofficial websites may attempt to represent CDFW and/or contain information about hunting and fishing licenses, and internet search engines may not always list the official CDFW website as the top result,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff stated. “While authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents and ALDS are subject to an additional 5 percent handling fee, the fraudulent sales websites offer products for sale with ‘shipping and handling fees’ that are much higher than 5 percent of the base purchase price.”
Anyone who believes he or she might have purchased a fishing or hunting license from an unauthorized website should email CDFW staff at ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov. The email address could also be used to confirm whether or not a previous purchase was made properly.